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Stellenbosch Theological Journal

On-line version ISSN 2413-9467
Print version ISSN 2413-9459

STJ vol.3 n.2 Stellenbosch  2017 



Forty years of theo-mission education in Eastern Africa: The case of St. Andrew's Kabare, Kenya (1977-2017)



Gathogo Julius

University of South Africa.




The article seeks to explore the intrigues behind the establishment of St Andrew's College of Theology and Development in Eastern Africa, at the Kabare Hill of Kenya, from May 1977. How does the legacy of the pioneer European missionaries to Eastern Africa (I refer to Krapf, Hannington, Tucker, Parker, McGregor, Crawford, Beecher among others) contribute to the current state of affairs in mission education and the establishment of St. Andrew's College in particular? The materials in this article are largely gathered through extensive reading of relevant literature, face-to-face interviews, oral sources and archival sources. The article coincides with the 40th anniversary celebration of St Andrew's College, Kabare - that began in 1977 as an institute for mission and evangelism. Through showcasing St Andrew's, the article has methodologically revisited the 19th and 20th European missionary legacy that inspired the current growth of the church in Eastern Africa. In turn, it has established that despite the gains so far made, there is still room in authenticating theological education in Eastern Africa and the rest of the tropical Africa.

Key words: Theo-mission studies; holistic education; theological education in Kenya; mission histories in Eastern Africa



1. Introduction

St. Andrew's College of Theology and Development, Kabare, is certainly the leading theological college in the Anglican Church of Kenya; and indeed, the most visible academic institution in the Mt. Kenya region. When the College opened its doors, for the first time, in July 1977, the founding Diocese was Mt. Kenya East. Since then, the Diocese has been sub-divided to create the current dioceses of Kirinyaga (the host), Embu, Meru, Mbeere, and Marsabit. By the time it was established, there was a huge cry for theological education that was spiritually and intellectually stimulating. The lay untrained and unschooled theology of East African Revival Movement (EARM) was strongly informing the socio-ecclesial discourses, despite its overemphasis on unrealized eschatology (future heavenly concern), in disregard of realized eschatology (present holistic concern). To put it differently, with the East African Revival Movement focusing too much on the 'heavenly pursuits,' and indeed influencing ecclesiastical leaders, despite its lack of balanced theological position, the need to focus on training and retraining of Clergy and/or building a theological college was not given the much needed priority. Certainly, the revivalists discouraged people who appeared to focus more on the physical development, as opposed to spiritual development. This theo-intellectual embargo remained the defining characteristic till the idea to open up St. Andrew's College, Kabare, was mooted in 1976 and the process began in 1977 and continues to the present moment.


2. Methodology

In using historical-analytical design, to unveil the limited parts of this rich history, the article has primarily strived to survey the intrigues behind the establishment of St. Andrew's College. Were the theological differences on how to run McGregor Bible School jointly, between Bishop Gitari (of Mt. Kenya East) and Bishop Sospeter Magua the successor of Bishop Kariuki of Mt. Kenya South), the key reason behind its formation? Were the divergent theological positions scriptural and prophetically necessary? Has St Andrew's College lived up to the founder's missiological vision? How has St Andrew's journeyed with the various holistic teaching and/or training programs for the last forty years?

The methodology in gathering this oral history project is largely through the use of unpublished materials, archival resources, face-to-face interviews with people who were connected to the issues at hand, phone-interviews, participant observation, Diocesan Synod reports, and indeed the use of some selected published works such as: Troubled but not yet destroyed (2014) by Archbishop David Gitari. In addition, I had to visit several libraries, in the Mombasa, Nairobi, Limuru, and Kirinyaga counties in order to gather credible data. While admitting that any published work has errors, in terms of omission, typological errors, some incorrect dating and so on, I must however admit that I have strived to offer apt historical account that will prepare a better ground for future publications on St. Andrew's College. To this end, St Andrew's College stands on a pedestal; and as the beacon that will map out the direction for the rest of the local institutions whose histories remain unpublished.


3. The European missionary factor

Historically, St. Andrew's College, Kabare, is a progression of the wider Anglican ministry in East Africa, the Church Missionary Society, which was pioneered by Rev. Dr. Ludwig Krapf in 1844. Thereafter, the first Anglican Diocese was created in 1884. It was called, The Diocese of Eastern Equatorial Africa. Its first Bishop was James Hannington (18471885) who was martyred in Uganda. Shortly afterwards Hannington was succeeded by Henry Parker (1852-1888). It is the third and last Bishop of the Diocese of Eastern Equatorial Africa, Alfred Tucker, (1849-1914) who had a huge impact on the early Christianity in East Africa; leading to a further subdivision and expansion. Like Krapf before him, Bishop Tucker could see the African Church beyond his time - a Church with trained theologians, with its own African leadership, local missionaries, and with a critical mass of local African worshippers. In 1897, thus, the pioneer Diocese of Eastern Equatorial Africa was subdivided into two; namely: The Diocese of Uganda under the leadership of Bishop Alfred Tucker, and The Diocese of Mombasa under Bishop William Peel (1854-1916).1

To this end, Julius Gathogo has noted thus:

Under Tucker, Anglican growth in Uganda thrived by the turn of the 20th century and among the most notable contribution of the Anglican Church was in the area of education. The first elementary schools were established in the 1890s. In 1913, the Bishop Tucker Theological College was established in Mukono and this institution was eventually expanded into what is now today the Uganda

Christian University (UCU), Mukono. This growth climaxed in 1961 when the Anglican Church of Uganda was recognised in the Anglican Communion with the establishment of the Province of Uganda and Rwanda-Urundi (later Province of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi). The incumbent Bishop of Uganda, Leslie Brown, was the first Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province. Brown was succeeded in 1966 by the first Ugandan Archbishop, Erica Sabiti. In 1980, Rwanda and Burundi were elevated to a separate province.2

Such early inspirational role from European missionaries such as Krapf, Peel, Crawford, Laight, Wright, and Tucker, among other European missionaries in the 19th and 20th century in Mt. Kenya region has its own place in the establishment of St. Andrew's College, Kabare. Indeed, as the Kikuyu people say, Wathi wakura wongagirira ungi (A good idea gives room for a better idea). The CMS role thus provided a platform through which the pioneer African leaders such as Musa Mumae, Johana Njumbi, and David Gitari among others would later come to build from, especially in the role of establishing primary schools and secondary schools; and St. Andrew's College, Kabare in particular.


4. On the shoulders of other giants

Certainly, the founders, of St. Andrew's College, Kabare, could paraphrase the variously quoted words of Isaac Newton (1643-1727) in rejecting flattery and/or praise for his role in formulating the laws of motion and universal gravitation, and where he said: 'If I can see this far, I must have stood on the shoulders of other giants,' where he was referring to his predecessors in scientific discoveries of the 17th century such as Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). Clearly, Tucker and Krapf's educational concern, through the establishment of schools, catechism classes, dispensaries and other elements of holistic ministry, must have given room to the establishment of St. Andrew's College of Theology and Development, Kabare, some decades later (1977).


5. The brainchild of Archbishop David Gitari (1937-2013)

St. Andrew's College, Kabare is indeed the brainchild of Archbishop David Gitari (1937-2013), who compares well with Bishop Tucker, in terms of vision for the African Church. In turn, it is critically important to concede that 40 years of its existence is beholden to the pioneer missionaries to East Africa, noted above. Tucker who reigned in this region and beyond, as a Bishop, from 1890 to 1897, is one such pioneering missionary; and who led the young Church to grow holistically. In the course of history, he inspired the likes of David Gitari, who came later to lead the Anglican Church; and eventually built what became the largest provincial college of missiological studies in Kenya. The scientific proof that shows that Gitari's development model was largely inspired by Tucker is seen in the fact that he severally paid tribute to him. Second, Gitari approach of engaging social issues is also seen clearly in the works of Alfred Tucker. In the neighbouring Uganda, a theological college that was established in 1913 was renamed Bishop Tucker Theological College. It is presently called Uganda Christian University, Mukono.3


6. The former Diocese of Mombasa

To this end, it is critically important to retrace the birth of the Diocese of Mt Kenya in 1961. When the former Diocese of Mombasa under Bishop Leonard Beecher (1906-87), who served from 1953-60, was sub-divided in 1961, four dioceses were created in Kenya; namely: The Diocese of Mombasa under Bishop Beecher (himself), the Diocese of Nakuru under Bishop Neville Langford-Smith (1910-93), the Diocese of Fort Hall (also renamed Mt. Kenya in 1963) under Bishop Obadiah Kariuki (1902-78), and the Diocese of Maseno under Bishop Festo Habakkuk Olang (1908-2004). From this, it is clear that the Kenyan Church was not theo-missiologically mature to stand on its own; hence her local material resources and local human resources were inadequate. Indeed, out of the four bishops, only two were local Africans by 1961. In particular, Neville Langford-Smith was a missionary from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. He died on 26 October 1993 in Castle Hill, in his home country upon his retirement and subsequent return. Likewise, Leonard James Beecher, though buried at All Saints, Limuru, Kenya, in 1987, was an English missionary. For this reason, the quest for quality local resources has always been a key concern.

Upon the subdivision of Mt. Kenya (Fort Hall) Diocese under Bishop Obadiah Kariuki, in 1975, two dioceses emerged. That is, the Diocese of Mt. Kenya South under Bishop Obadiah Kariuki (later succeeded by Bishop Sospeter Magua in 1976) and the Diocese of Mt. Kenya East under the 37 year old David Gitari. Unfortunately, the two Mt. Kenya Dioceses had only one theological school, McGregor Bible School, Weithaga. The school is situated in the present day Murang'a County. It had issues ranging from staffing, quality of trainees, and nature of training, mode of instruction, the curriculum, the content, and the library services among other concerns that made the middle aged graduate, Bishop David Gitari, to doubt its viability as a vehicle for theo-social transformation of the region. Confronted with such realities, Gitari who was highly educated for the standards of the day, could not understand how the status quo was to remain. It is from there that he called the elders from his Mt. Kenya East Diocese where he shared his vision that was unanimously approved forthwith. In light of this, the dream of setting up a credible institution was hatched; hence the journey of building the present day St. Andrew's College of Theology and Development, Kabare, begun. Without resources, Gitari called it a 'By-Faith' journey.


7. Geographical location

St. Andrew's College, Kabare, is situated in Kirinyaga County, Gichugu sub-County, in the former Central Province of Kenya. It is geographically located in the southern slopes of Mt. Kenya, the highest Mountain in Kenya; and the second highest in Africa after Mt. Kilimanjaro. The area experiences good climate, with fertile volcanic soil, with coffee and tea growing; and with abundant rainfall (over 63 mm per annum).4

Regarded as part of the upper zone that is closer to Mt. Kenya, the area surrounding St. Andrew's College, Kabare, differs sharply with the lower zone of Kirinyaga County, Mwea sub-County. In the lower zone, which is normally called the 'star grass zone' cash crops such as Tea and Coffee are not grown. Rather, the former dry wastelands (Mwea plains) that have been reclaimed through irrigation that derives its waters from rivers Rupingazi, Nyamindi, and Thiba are now the breadbasket of Kenya with a variety of food crops. That is, rice, maize, beans, French beans, peas, onions, tomatoes among others. As a matter of facts, 80 percent of Kenya's rice comes from this region.5

At this juncture, it is significant to appreciate that St. Andrew's College, Kabare, neighbours are one of the former Church Missionary Society's (CMS) key centres in Mount Kenya region, or central Kenya for that matter. That is, St. Andrew's Anglican Church, Kabare. In turn, St. Andrew's Church, established by the European missionaries in 1910, stands between Mutira Mission, which was officially opened in 1912, and which is on its Western side; while Kigari Mission which was also established in 1910 by the same CMS team, stands in the Eastern side. The three former mission centres are critical in reshaping the modern trends in matters dealing with education, health, new farming techniques, animal husbandry, environmental concern, and gender relations among other issues that inform the current theo-social discourses. Apart from St. Andrew's Church, the area hosts St. Andrew's Girls Boarding Primary School, Kabare, St. Andrew's Dispensary, Kabare Boys' Primary School, and Kabare Girls' High School. While the Boarding Primary School stands up high on a pedestal as one of the best boarding schools for Girls in Kenya; Kabare Girls' High School equally stands out as one of the leading National Schools in Kenya. As a matter of fact, Kabare Girls and Baricho Boys' High School (situated within Mutira Mission) are the only two national schools in Kirinyaga County. In both Baricho Boys' and Kabare Girls,' the students' mean scores in the national exams annually are normally well above Grade B, especially when we survey it from 2012 to 2017.6 Besides St. Andrew's Girls' Boarding Primary School and Kabare Girls' High School which regularly lead at the national level in both Primary and Secondary Schools exams respectively, the area boasts of Kabare Day Mixed Primary School, officially called Kabare Boys' Primary School even though it is a day primary school for both boys and girls. The reason for referring to it as a Boys' Primary School is to avoid confusion with St. Andrew's Girls' Boarding Primary School, even though it initially trained Boys only. Interestingly, the five institutions share the same vast compound; hence they neighbour one another.

On another note, St. Andrew's College, Kabare, is situated 3 kilometres North of Rukenya Shopping Centre which was the official residence of the legendary Chief Gutu wa Kibetu, of the Gicugu sub-group of the larger Gikuyu nation of Kenya; and who lived between 1860 to 1927. It is about ten kilometres from Kutus Town, which is one of the big towns in Kirinyaga County. Kutus Town lies at the Centre of Kirinyaga County; and has been proposed as the ideal capital of the County. In turn, the name Kutus is a corruption of the name Gutu; hence, the town is named after the legendary paramount chief (Gutu wa Kibetu). Besides Kutus Town on the Southern side, St. Andrew's College, lies on the Eastern side of Kerugoya Town, and the western side of Embu Town.


8. The Diocese of Mount Kenya (1961-1975)

For us to understand the emergence of St. Andrew's College, Kabare, which is a by-product of the 20th century missionary labours, especially through the Church Missionary Society's (CMS), it is worthwhile to recall that from 1961 to 1975, there was only one Diocese serving the entire Mount Kenya region and the entire Eastern Kenya. By Eastern Kenya, I mean the present Counties of Samburu, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Garissa, Isiolo, Embu, Meru, Tharaka-Nithi, Meru, and of course the host Kirinyaga district (now County since 2010) which was hived off from the former Embu district (now County) in 1963. Mt. Kenya Anglican Diocese which was created in 1961 also served the Central Kenya Counties such as Murang'a (formely Fort Hall District which currently has Murang'a South7 and Mt. Kenya Central8Dioceses), Nyeri (Mt. Kenya West Diocese), Nyandarua (Nyahururu Diocese), Kiambu (which has Mt. Kenya South and Thika Diocese, though some parts of Murang'a County are part of the latter).

Nevertheless, both Eastern and the Central Kenyan ecclesiastical constituencies of the larger Mt. Kenya region were stewarded under Bishop Obadiah Kariuki who served from 1961 when the only Anglican Diocese in Kenya, the Diocese of Mombasa was sub-divided into four thereby making Fort Hall (which was later renamed Mt. Kenya), Nakuru, Maseno, and Mombasa Dioceses, noted earlier. In turn, all the four Dioceses were under the Anglican Province of East Africa under Archbishop Leonard J. Beecher,9 who served as the Archbishop from 1960 to 1970. Beecher (190687) who sought an earlier retirement after the Church Province of East Africa (CPEA) was sub-divided into Church Province of Tanzania (CPT) and the Church Province of Kenya (CPK) in 1970 had previously served as the 4th Bishop of Mombasa from 1953 to 1960. Beecher had also served as the Priest-in-Charge (Vicar) of St. Andrew's Church, Kabare, which neighbours St. Andrew's College, from 1937 to 1938. It is from there that Beecher, passed over the baton of leadership to the first African Clergy, his Curate and Pastoral Assistant, Rev. Musa Mumae who served from 1935 (as Deacon and Curate) to 1952 (as the Priest-in-Charge) of St. Andrew's Church, Kabare. By then, St. Andrew's Kabare Parish covered the entire Gicugu sub-County and the Eastern part of Mwea sub-County. After Beecher, St. Andrew's Church, Kabare, was never served by a European missionary as Priests-in-Charge though it continued to receive servants from Europe and other parts of the world to the present moment.

After the creation of the Diocese, Bishop Obadiah Kariuki10 who had been an Assistant Bishop of Fort Hall since his consecration in 1955 became its first Bishop while Rev. E. K. Cole, the former Principal of St. Paul's United Theological College, now St. Paul's University, Limuru, became its first Archdeacon. Fort Hall Town, was later renamed Murang'a Town, and was chosen as the Diocesan Centre/Headquarter.11 It is imperative at this stage to appreciate that Mount Kenya Diocese was first called Fort Hall Diocese (1961-1963). In 1963, after Kenya became an independent nation, the name of the diocese was changed from Fort Hall (Murang'a) to Mount Kenya, in remembrance of Kisoi Munyao, a Kenyan mountaineer who hoisted the Kenyan flag on Mt. Kenya on Independence Day, December 12, 1963.12Kariuki maintained that this was also to remind Christians that they were to hoist the flag of Christ in all communities of the Mt. Kenya region.

During the December 2, 1962 ordination service, Bishop Kariuki ordained Revs. E. Makaho, R. Mbui, J. Kamau, H. J. Njuguna, J. A. Mbaka, E. Nthiga, G. W. Wacira, E. N. Chandi, M. C. Lapage, S. Kago and J. Minja as priests.13 By 1967, women's work was progressing well as Miss Priscilla Njoki of Kiambaa, Miss Hortensiah Wanjiku of Kiambaa and Miss Eunice Marigu of Embu were being trained at the Church Army Theological College, Nairobi. Miss Waitherero and Sister Mary Muthoni were working together at Nanyuki; and Miss Margaret Muthoni was being trained at St. John's Community Centre, Nairobi, under the Revd. Anne Barnett. Miss Barnett had already been made an Anglican Deacon by 1967 serving in the then Nairobi Diocese.14 In 1965, the Reverends B. Kamau, Joseph Mwangi Ngooro and Joseph Kangangi Mwanake were ordained to the priesthood; and in 1967, Rowland Warui and Marclus Itimu were made Deacons.15

Further ordinations took place in December 1967 when Simon Kariuki, Sospeter Njeru, Samson Njuguna, Linus Njuki and William Nguu were made Deacons; while in 1968, the Reverends Marclus Itumu and Rowland Warui were ordained priests. in January 1969, Zakaria Karani and Godfrey Ngigi were made Deacons; while the Reverends S. Kariuki, S. Njeru, S. Njuguna, W. Nguu and Linus Njuki were ordained priests.16 Of importance to note is that Reverends Simon Kariuki, Linus Njuki, Marclus Itumu, Rowland Warui and Zakaria Karani came from the old Mount Kenya East Diocese side of the Diocese. When Gitari took over as the first Bishop of Mt. Kenya East, he started the new Diocese with them. Critically important is the fact that Gitari took over a Diocese with hotchpotch of diverse needs including trained human resources. When he began as a Diocesan Bishop, in 1975, Gitari had twenty-five Priests and five Deacons, but by the time the Diocese of Mount Kenya East was sub-divided into Kirinyaga and Embu, in April 1990, he had largely managed to address the gaping holes through training at St. Andrew's College, Kabare. The bigger number of trained theologians at St. Andrew's College, Kabare, was largely enough to form the two Dioceses of Embu and Kirinyaga that came after the subdivision of Mt. Kenya East Diocese. Gitari went on to become the bishop of the 'new' Diocese of Kirinyaga; while some of the Clergy who served in the former Mount Kenya East Diocese joined Kirinyaga as well and served under him. Others joined Embu Diocese and served under Bishop Moses Njue. Certainly, St. Andrew's Kabare had fast-tracked the growth of Mt. Kenya East Diocese to an extent that it was 'miraculously' ripe for sub-division within just 15 years! Although it 'fast-tracked' the training of clergy, Bishop Gitari always insisted that his clergy were well-trained.

Equally, Bishop Obadiah Kariuki, before Gitari, had by February 1, 1970, steered Mount Kenya Diocese so successfully that it was ripe for a subdivision 14 years after the Diocese was created (1961 to 1975); hence the Dioceses of Mount Kenya South and Mount Kenya East were created in 1975. In particular, it had 39 parishes, 76 workers who included 54 Clergy, 8 Church Army Captains and Sisters and 14 lay workers. Further, there were 44 Clergy who were ministering to approximately 280 congregations. Additionally, there were 3 African and 18 European missionaries serving the vast Diocese of Mount Kenya. Certainly, its subdivision in 1975 was necessary, as service was brought close to the grassroots. Or should we say, it was ecclesiastical devolution at its best?


9. The sub-division of Mt. Kenya Diocese, 1975

Mt. Kenya (Fort Hall) Diocese under Bishop Obadiah Kariuki was subdivided in 1975 thereby creating two dioceses within Mount Kenya region. That is, the Diocese of Mt. Kenya South under Bishop Obadiah Kariuki and the Diocese of Mt. Kenya East under the 37 year old David Gitari. Unfortunately, the two Mt. Kenya Dioceses had only one theological school, McGregor Bible School, Weithaga. The school is situated in the present day Murang'a County. It had issues ranging from staffing, quality of trainees, and nature of training, mode of instructions, the curriculum, the content, and the library services among other concerns that made the middle aged graduate, Bishop David Gitari, doubt its viability as a vehicle for theo-social transformation of the region.

Nevertheless, the move to create a new Diocese of Mt. Kenya East forms the immediate background that created St. Andrew's College, Kabare. Considering that the new Diocese served virtually the entire Eastern Kenya, the need to create an alternative and/or another Theological College appeared the most logical thing to do. Second, with the spirit of creating a new diocese came the urge to create a new theological training centre. For as the Kikuyu say, Nyongi ndigimaraga (meaning, the suckling child does not mature till he or she stops and handles bigger things). Undoubtedly, it was difficult to expect the new Diocese of Mt. Kenya East to be sending its own trainees to the old diocese on the old site, yet it badly needed more trained Clergy who would steer the Diocese further under the leadership of Bishop David Gitari. Third, the creation of the new Diocese of Mt. Kenya East saw the emergence of David Gitari on the Episcopal scene. Gitari was arguably the most dynamic Anglican Bishop and Archbishop in post-colonial Kenya. As he took over the stewardship of the Anglican See of Mount Kenya East, he understood himself as the prophet of the nations, hence an Ecumenist who did not shy off in releasing oracles to the nation and the world. He wrote and spoke his mind. By the time he took over in 1975, he was the most educated Anglican Bishop in Kenya. In his book, Troubled but not yet Destroyed, he rightly prides himself as the fourth Anglican graduate after John Mbiti and others. He says thus:

I had prepared myself for the full ministry of the Church for about twelve years (1959 to 1971). My calling was mainly to young intellectuals. I very much wanted to commend the Gospel of Jesus to students in secondary schools and the University of Nairobi. The Archbishop, the Most Revd Festo Habakkuk Olang', did not accept my offer, most likely on the advice of his Archdeacon, the Ven. Ken Stovold. At that time, I was only the fourth Anglican Kenyan to obtain a University degree in Theology after Dr. John Mbiti, the Revd Thomas Kalume (who became a Member of Parliament) and the Revd Henry Okullu (who at the time was the Editor of Target Newspaper) [later became the first bishop in Maseno diocese].17

Clearly, Gitari, Kalume, Mbiti, and Okullu were among the leading theo-philosophical think-tanks in the protestant wing of the Kenyan church in the 1960s and 70s. As the leading lights, their leadership was relied upon in the National Council of Churches of Kenya, the Anglican Church of Kenya and in providing leadership in the new post-colonial mission of the church. In establishing St Andrew's Kabare, Gitari was attempting to carry out his missiological mandate to a church that heavily relied on him.


10. The coming of Gitari on the Episcopal scene

As a matter of fact, the coming of David Gitari on the Episcopal scene in 1975 changed the ecclesiastical and theological trajectory in Mt. Kenya region and beyond. As he moved across the world to sell the 'St. Andrew's College, Kabare, Project' to the donor's, the message was clear: St. Andrew's College, Kabare, was taking shape for Christian missions, theological education, business studies: secretarial training, and accounts were in the offing. It was no longer business as usual; theology has to be blended with other human sciences. With strong support from both the Houses of Laity and Clergy for Gitari, the dream of building a holistic College in the rural areas of the present day Kirinyaga County was cooked and availed for broad consumption.

As Gitari begun to steward Mt. Kenya East in 1975, the young Diocese had less than 40 Clergy who were geographically from the areas that were covered by his jurisdiction. Unfortunately, some were Tent Makers hence they were clergy by ordination; but were teaching in Government schools and were indeed unreliable. After the sub-division however, only 33 chose to join his side of the former Mt. Kenya Diocese. In a nutshell, the Clergy who served under Bishop Kariuki, and were from Mt. Kenya East side of the former Mt. Kenya (though not all joined Gitari after his 1975 consecration) were: Revds Jason Minja from Kiandangae-Kirinyaga, Rowland Kariuki from Sagana-Kirinyaga, Edward Karani from Mburi-Kirinyaga, Jeremiah Njogu Mugo from Ngiriambu-Kirinyaga, Rowland Warui from Runyenjes-Embu, Andrew Adano from Bubisa-Marsabit, Joseph Mwangi Ngooro from Gathuthi-ini-Kirinyaga, Jephtha Kiara Gathaka from Mutitu-Kirinyaga, Bedan Ireri from Kigari-Embu, Marclus Mark Itumu from Rwika-Mbeere, Gideon Gerishon Ireri (later Bishop of Mbeere) from Mucunguri-Mbeere, Ephaphras Nthiga from Kathari-Embu, Linus Njuki from Kanja-Embu, Simon Kariuki who studied at St. Paul's Limuru and came from Githure-Kirinyaga, Zachariah Karani Nyaga who studied at St Paul's Limuru and was from Kiandumu-Kirinyaga, Elias Njiru Chandi from Kianjokoma-Embu, Godfrey Ngigi Ndirima from St. Andrew's Kabare-Kirinyaga (originally from Kiambu), Daudi Petero from Kigari-Embu, Richard Mbui from Kianguenyi, Joseph Kangangi Mwanake from Kamuiru, Alfred Nyaga from Gatunduri-Embu, Abed Mugai, Amos Karani from Kombui-ini-Kirinyaga, Ephantus Mwaniki from Kigaa-Embu, Misheck Soo (from Karaba-Mbeere), Renison Mbogo from Kanja-Embu, Stephen Houghton (a B.C.M.S.18 missionary from England who was finally buried in Marsabit in northern Kenya, upon his death), Nathaniel Kamunye (then serving in Tanzania, but from Kiburu-Kirinyaga), Jacob Muriithi from Mukinduri-Kirinyaga, Timothy Muasya from Riakanau-Mbeere, Alfred Chipman (a CMS missionary from Australia who later became the first Bishop of Mt. Kenya West in 1993),19 Sospeter Njeru from Kanyuambora-Mbeere, Manasseh Maina from Kagio-Kirinyaga, Albert Nthiga Kithua from Mbeere, Elijah Njeru from Runyenjes-Embu, and William Nguo Arthur from Kanja-Embu.20 The number was not enough for a vast region that he was stewarding. This reality gave a strong justification for the establishment of St Andrew's College for theo-mission studies.


11. Recalling the retired clergy

As he took over the Anglican See of Mt Kenya East, in 1975, Gitari also found some retired Clergy whom he constantly assigned duties, as the shortage of Clergy was a real challenge. They included: Johana Njumbi from Mutira-Kirinyaga, Johana Muturi from Kigari-Embu, Musa Njiru from Kigari-Embu, Herbert Ndwiga from Karungu-Embu, and Ezekiel Njiru from Gucuriri-Mbeere.21 In particular, Gitari collated some of the retired Clergy such as Johana Njumbi as Anglican Canons on 4 January 1976 during the great ceremony that officially marked the birth of the Diocese of Mount Kenya East.22 Such gestures points to the fact that Gitari was desperately attempting an inclusive approach to the ministry, by appealing even to the retired ones, in his endeavour to rebuild the new Diocese. Certainly, the shortage of Clergy, in an area that virtually covered half of Kenya's territorial space, did not only drive Gitari to seek strong partnership with the retired Clergy but it also forms the wider background that helps us understand the reasons for the establishment of St. Andrew's College, Kabare, among other factors.

Additionally, the nature of Priests whom Gitari inherited was also a critical factor that complicated his work. First, the rules of the day allowed an ordained Clergyman to remain in his other profession(s) but still offer essential services to the Church. In such arrangements, he could occasionally attend to the Church Services, as the need arose. Second, there were full-time Priests, Tent-Maker Priests, and Visiting Priests. These ministries complicated the work of the new dioceses, especially due to their double loyalties and the resulting conflict of interests. Apart from the full-time Priests, thus, others could not be relied upon as they mainly appeared during the major Church events/occasions and/or key meetings of the Church. A case in point is Rev. Abed Mugai from Embu. Mugai was a trained teacher by profession. He, however, did not join full-time Church ministry. Rather, he continued teaching in a local primary school even after ordination by Bishop Obadiah Kariuki. He could, however, serve the Church as a visiting Clergy and/or as a Tent Maker. Such shortages of clergy gave room to the idea of establishing St Andrew's Kabare.


12. Forty years of theo-mission studies

With the establishment of St Andrew's College, Kabare, in 1977, theological education was devolved into the rural districts of Kenya. Additionally, St Andrew's College introduced the school of business studies in 1988 after the coming of the CMS missionary, Pamela Wilding from the United Kingdom. In the business school, there is both the Secretarial class and the Accounts class. While the Secretarial class was mainly for ladies, the September 1991 class surprised the 'world' when it attracted men as well. In this regard, Peter Macharia Kamami and James Muchiri Mugo became the first men to complete the Secretarial course in December 1993. Mugo was first employed at Embu Diocesan office as the secretary before he secured a job as a clerk with the Mwea Rice Board. Kamami got employed as a Clerk with the Cargill East Africa, a company which was dealing with Tea Exports. On the other hand, the first secretarial graduate, Naomi Jillo Waqo of 1989 returned in September 1992 to study theological study. By 2016, she was the Administrative Secretary of All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi.

As St Andrew's Kabare marks her 40 years of theo-mission education, she could boast of her Principals as follows: Bishop (later Archbishop) David Gitari (1977); Rev. Stephen Houghton (until December 1978); Ven Marclus Itumu (while Vicar of St. Andrew's became honorary Principal, from January 1979 to August 1979); Patrick Benson (newly arrived missionary acted as Gideon Ireri was preparing to return from overseas, though Itumu was the honorary Principal, January 1979 - August 1979); Rev (later Bishop) Gideon Ireri (September 1979 - August 1987); Rev (later Bishop) Graham Kings (September 1987 to December 1989); Rev. (later Canon Dr.) Moses Mwangi Njoroge (acting for 8 months from January to August 1989); Rev. Godfrey Muriithi Munge (January 1990 - July 1991); Rev. (later Canon Dr.) Moses Mwangi Njoroge (July 1991 to August 1993; Rev. Dr. Washington Chege Kamau (September 1993 to December 1996); Dr. Ben Knighton (1996 to February 1998); Rev. Canon Dr. Moses Mwangi Njoroge (February 1998 to 30 January 2016); Rev. Robinson Kariuki Mwangi (1 February 2016 -).

St Andrew's Kabare could also boast of its chairpersons, from 1977 to 2017, as follows: Archbishop David Gitari, Bishop Gideon Ireri, Bishop Daniel Munene Ngoru, Bishop Henry Kathii, Bishop Moses Masamba Nthukah (current). St. Andrew's Kabare could also boast of her alumnae who had attained PhDs and Doctoral degrees as follows: Joseph Galgalo (Cambridge, UK), Albert Kabiro Gatumu (Durham, UK), Moses Mwangi Njoroge (Trinity School of Ministry, USA), Julius Gathogo (UKZN, Pietermaritzburg, RSA), Zablon Bundi Mutongu (CEBU, Philippines), Lydia Ndambiri-Mwaniki (UKZN, Pietermaritzburg, RSA), Regina Kiura-Nduati (Trinity School of Ministry, USA), Dickson Nkonge Kagema (UNISA, RSA), Josiah Murage (Stellenbosch, RSA), John Mararo Gachoki (Minnesota, USA), Moses Masamba Nthukah (UK/USA), and Catherine Wambui Njagi (Masinde Muliro, Kenya).

Forty years of theo-mission studies at St Andrew's College, Kabare, re-echoes the pioneer Tutors (1977-78) such as: Bishop David Gitari (Principal), Rev. Stephen Houghton (Vice-Principal), Ven. Marclus Mark Itumu, Rev. Nathaniel Kamunye, Rev. Joseph Mwangi Ngooro, Rev. Jephthah Kiara Gathaka, Ven. Major Phinehas Nyaga, Revd Rowland Warui, Mrs Grace Gitari (Mama Sammy), Revd Alfred Nyaga, and Ven. Canon Bedan Ireri. Equally, the memories of the pioneer class (1977-78) could be reconstructed. It included: Lazaro Ngari, Peter Karanja, Milton Njogu, Bernard Nyaga, Donald Ireri, Hezron Mwangi, John E. Njiru, and Julius Kathendu. Likewise Anglican Bishops, across Eastern Africa, who are alumnae of St Andrew's Kabare include: Andrew Adano (Assistant Bishop, Kirinyaga), Daniel Munene Ngoru (Bishop, Kirinyaga), Joseph Kagunda (Bishop, Mt. Kenya West), Charles Mwendwa (Bishop, Meru), William Waqo Boru (Assistant Bishop, Kirinyaga), Moses Masamba Nthukah (Bishop, Mbeere), Gadiel Katanga Lenini (Bishop, Kajiado), Joseph Kibucwa (Bishop, Kirinyaga), David Muriithi Ireri (Bishop, Embu), Francis Matui (Bishop, Makueni), Wario Daniel Qampicha (Bishop, Marsabit), Elias Chakupewa (Bishop, Diocese of Tabora in Tanzania), and Thomas Tut (Bishop, Episcopal Church of Sudan).

Equally, the 40 years of theo-mission studies at St Andrew's College of Theology and Development, Kabare, saw some alumnae occupy positions beyond the expectations of the founder. In a nutshell, some became key African scholars/researchers (Mutugi Gathogo and others), others joined public universities and took leading roles. Such included Dr. Josiah Murage who was made the Director of Post Graduate Studies at the then Karatina University College, a constituent college of Moi University, and later chartered as Karatina University in 2014. While Naomi Jillo Waqo was sworn in as Member of Kenya's 12th parliament (the Senate) in 2017; Revd Samuel Murimi Kanjobe was also sworn in as the Minister of Lands in the County Government of Kirinyaga. Previously, Revd Magdalene Nduta was sworn in as the Minister of Gender and Youth Affairs in the County Government of Kirinyaga County. Such cases saw how the alumnae of St. Andrew's College, Kabare, went far beyond the founders dream and served the wider society in diverse ways. Certainly, a good idea gives room to yet another good idea.


13. A critical appreciation

While the current courses offered at Diploma level (that includes: Old and New Testament studies, Church histories, Philosophy, Sociology, Systematic theology, African women's theology, African theology, Anglicanism, Pastoral care and counselling, Apologetics, HIV and AIDS, Ethics, Homiletics, Mission and Evangelism, Greek and Hebrew languages, and Islam among others) are credible, a more relevant curriculum is equally critical. In my view, a further revision of the curriculum may need to either add other related courses or start another Diploma or initiate a Degree program altogether. This would mean adding relevant courses/ modules such as: Religion and Troubled Sexuality; Theology and African hospitality; Ubuntu (humanness) and Christian philosophies of care; Religion and Human Rights; Religion and the NGOs Sector in Africa; The Church in the Age of Technology; Theology and Tribalism/Racism, Religion and Health, Religion and Poverty Alleviation in Africa; Religion and International Relations; Religion, Science and Technology; Religion, Technology and Environment; Religion, Law and Order; Religion and Population Management in Africa; Religion and Economic Development in Africa; Theology and Reconstruction of Africa; Religion and Conflict Management; Religion and Reproductive Health; Religion and Marginalization; Theology and Political Devolution in Kenya; Religion and Urbanization in Africa; Contemporary Psychotherapy and Spirituality, Theology and Globalization in Africa; and Religion and Mass Media among other courses that resonates well with the dictates of the twenty-first century.

While Gitari, the founder, the pioneer Chairman, principal and patron provided bold leadership that easily reached out to the global community, the current leadership has to be decisive enough and open up St Andrew's Kabare as a University of holistic mission and development. Indeed, a good idea gives room to get a better idea; hence the founders dream should not just be maintained but developed further. In other words, while transactional leadership strives hard to maintain the status quo, transformative leadership, which is needed at St Andrew's Kabare, seeks to empower everyone to do something so that we can collectively grow. The failure by St Andrew's College to replace her long serving patron (David Gitari) further points to a silent crisis of ideas. This can be interpreted to show a crisis that goes beyond the quest for transformative leadership that the college and the larger society in Mount Kenya region needs.


14. Conclusion

Clearly, the forty years of theo-mission education at St Andrew's Kabare has demonstrated that the European missionary labours of the 19th and 20th century were not in vain. As a by-product of the missionary labours, St Andrew's, as an institute of mission and theological studies has demonstrated holistic understanding of the mission of the church that goes beyond spiritual welfare and indeed addresses the intellectual, physical, medical, psychological, gender, and other human needs. Clearly, Jesus grew holistically, in wisdom (intellectually), stature (physically), and in favour with God (spiritually) and humanity (socially) as Luke 2:52 implies. The weakness in St Andrew's College Kabare is its slow speed in establishing itself as a fully pledged university that studies liberal arts and sciences. Remaining in the European missionary armpits after over 50 years of political independence means that going beyond the two schools (theological and secretarial) is the way to go in the 21st century. Forty years of existence, as a College, however has something to show despite our expectations to see beyond this radical continuity from European missionary continuity to the new African leadership. The failure to decisively move from a College to a University however begs for answers. Equally, the need for the Africanization of theological and pastoral education is indeed a matter that needs attention and prompt action so as to remain relevant in the 21stcentury.



Cole, K. 1970. The Cross Over Mount Kenya: A Short History of the Anglican Church in the Diocese of Mount Kenya (1900-1970), (Melbourne: Ridley College).         [ Links ]

Dictionary of African Christian Biography. [Online] Available: [Accessed 2 June 2017].

Gathogo, J. 2011. Mutira Mission: An African Church Comes of Age (Limuru: Zapf Chancery).         [ Links ]

Gathogo, J. 2011. Pangs of Birth in African Christianity (Saabrucken: Lambert Academic Publishers).         [ Links ]

Gathogo, J. 2013. 'Afro-Pentecostalism and the Kenyan political landscape', Swedish Missiological Themes, vol. 2 (2013): 203-230.         [ Links ]

Gitari, D. 2014. Troubled but Not Yet Destroyed: The Autobiography of Archbishop David Gitari (Curran Street, McLean: Isaac Publishing).         [ Links ]

Advance - [Online] Available: [Accessed 19 November 2017].


Dr. John Mararo, 20 June 2017.

Mzee Stanley Nyaga, 3 June 2017.

Ven. Charles Kamiri Itegi, 20 June 2017.

Ven. Canon Peter Karanja Njoroge, 11 April 2017.

Ven. Canon Peter Karanja Njoroge, 11 April 2017.



1 For details, see Julius Gathogo, Pangs of Birth in African Christianity (Saabrucken: Lambert Academic Publishers, 2011).
2 Gathogo, Pangs of Birth in African Christianity, p. 41.
3 See Julius Gathogo, 'Afro-Pentecostalism and the Kenyan political landscape', Swedish Missiological Themes, vol. 2 (2013): 203 - 230.
4 Julius Gathogo, Mutira Mission: An African Church Comes of Age (Limuru: Zapf Chancery, 2011).
5 Julius Gathogo, Mutira Mission.
6 [Accessed 19 November 2017].
7 The Rt. Rev. Julius Karanu wa Gicheru was elected as the first bishop of Murang'a South after it was curved from the larger Mt. Kenya Central Diocese. Karanu was elected on 25 April 2014.
8 In my interviews with Ven. Charles Kamiri Itegi and Dr. John Mararo, I gathered that Mt. Kenya Central diocese had no substantive Bishop by 20 June 2017. It remained as a contested territory since the retirement of Bishop Isaac Maina Ng'ang'a in 2015. In other words, the leadership crisis and/or wrangles dominated the diocese for more than two years, a trajectory that contradicts the mission spirit of the 19 and 20 century. As Bishop Ng'ang'a retired on Sunday 12 November 2015, the wranging Diocese was placed under a Commissary Bishop by the former Archbishop of the Anglican Province, Eliud Wambukala. In this scenario, Archbishop Wabukala assumed the leadership and appointed the then diocesan assistant, Bishop Alan Waithaka, as his commissary until his retirement in August 2017.This made it the second one in Kenya to be placed under a Commissary Bishop after Marsabit which was then headed by the Rt. Rev. Robert Martin. In turn, a Commissary Bishop, who can be hired from any corner of the Anglican Communion globally, has all the powers to run a Diocese; but has to do it in consultation with the office of the Archbishop of the Province of Kenya. The Anglican Diocese of Mt Kenya Central finally got a Bishop on 21 June 2017 when Ven Timothy Irungu Gichere was elected the new Bishop. Luckily enough the crisis was settled when Venerable Gichere was elected as the 4 bishop of Mt. Kenya Central. He was consecrated and enthroned on 6 August 2017 at Muranga Cathedral.
9 The first Archbishop of the Anglican Province of East Africa (CPEA), Leonard Beecher, who was appointed from Canterbury, England, in 1960, had his enthronement ceremony held in Dar es Salaam, Tanganyika (later Tanzania).
10 On May 15 1955, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, officiated at the consecration of Bishop Kariuki and Festo Olang' as Assistant Bishops in Namirembe Cathedral in Kampala, Uganda.
11 Keith Cole, The Cross Over Mount Kenya: A Short History of the Anglican Church in the Diocese of Mount Kenya (1900-1970), (Melbourne: Ridley College, 1970), p. 17.
12 (accessed 2 June 2017).
13 Cole, The Cross Over Mount Kenya, 22.
14 Ibid., 23 i
15 Ibid., 23.
16 Ibid., 25. Revd so and so, just like the full priest who also wears a collar, they are not yet ordained. They are made Deacons. After at least one year of Deacon-hood, the Bishop's Examining Chaplains can recommend for ordination to priesthood or suspend it for diverse reasons. Finally, the Bishop can ordain them as Priests.
17 David Gitari, Troubled But Not Yet Destroyed: The Autobiography of Archbishop David Gitari (Curran Street, McLean: Isaac Publishing, 2014), p. 31.
18 BCMS refers to the Bible Churchmen's Missionary Society, renamed Crosslinks since the early 1990s.
19 Mt Kenya West Diocese was created in 1993 on the sub-division of the Diocese of Mount Kenya Central. It covers Nyeri and Laikipia administrative districts.
20 Interview with Ven. Canon Peter Karanja Njoroge, 11 April 2017; and Mzee Stanley Nyaga, 3 June 2017.
21 Interview with Ven. Canon Peter Karanja Njoroge, 11 April 2017.
22 Julius Gathogo, Mutira Mission, p. 67.

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